Merck KGaA, Abbott, Gilead, Lilly, and Merck & Co. are the biggest buyers.

The last quarter of 2006 gave rise to over 50 mergers and acquisitions of all sizes. The five largest reported deals are highlighted.

Merck-Serono Biopharmaceuticals was born at an almost $13.58-billion price paid by Merck KGaA. Upon the Bertarelli Family giving up their majority stake in Serono, a company with a $13.66-billion market cap as of December 28, 2006, Merck transformed itself from one of the oldest pure pharmaceutical and chemical companies into a formidable biopharmaceutical firm.

Abbott shelled out $3.7 billion in cash to expand its lipid management portfolio. The acquisition of Kos Pharmaceuticals and its on-market products is set to give Abbott a bigger slice of the $20-billion cholesterol market.

Gilead Sciences took over Myogen in a deal worth $2.5 billion. The transaction was part of a diversification strategy for Gilead’s portfolio of mainly HIV drugs.

Eli Lilly plans to take control over Icos’ erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis, by buying the company for $2.3 billion. Lilly originally offered $2.1 billion. The companies have a joint venture related to the drug that enjoyed $456 million in sales for the first quarter of 2006.

To strengthen its foothold in the RNAi field, Merck & Co. proffered $1.1 billion to Sirna Therapeutics. The price was more than double Sirna’s closing price of $6.45 per share the day before the announcement.

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